November 9, 2023 - 16:02 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - London’s Armenian community has been left feeling “under attack” after the city’s Armenian Genocide monument was vandalised following attempts by masked extremists to interrupt its unveiling ceremony, The Catholic Herald reports.
The striking flame-shaped 6-foot monument, carved from tuff, Armenia’s national stone, was recently installed as England’s first dedicated memorial to the victims of the Genocide against its people.
As the 23 September inauguration ceremony unfolded, what should have been a solemn occasion quickly turned into a shocking display of hatred and attempted intimidation. A group of men arrived (pictured), some of whom had concealed their faces, waving Turkish flags and grinning as they displayed fists with the little finger and index finger raised: a “Turkic hand gesture” associated with the Grey Wolves, a proscribed terror group in several countries.
The Grey Wolves, a Turkish nationalist organization, were behind spates of bombings and shootings throughout the 1970s, targeting not only Armenians but also Kurds and members of the opposition Democratic Peoples’ Party in Turkey. The group has displayed hostility to most non-Turkish or non-Sunni elements within Turkey and has distributed Turkish translations of Nazi literature.
In 2020, France banned the group for hate speech and political violence. In 2019 Austria outlawed its characteristic hand gesture. They are also outlawed in Kazakhstan.
“The Grey Wolves gesture is the moral equivalent of a Nazi salute,” explained Annette Moskofian, who chairs the UK’s Armenian National Committee, a grassroots community body.
For the Armenian community in the UK, the attacks on their event and the genocide memorial itself did not feel like an isolated incident; instead they have served as a harsh reminder of the challenges their community has long faced, with little external support.
This disturbing display of extremism occurred at the peak of the recent crisis in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), which Baku had subjected to a harsh humanitarian blockade since last December. In September, the crisis provoked the exodus of almost all of the 100,000 ethnic Armenians from the enclave as Azeri forces launched a takeover, ending thousands of years of Armenian Christian presence in the small, mountainous region.